Strategic Plan - Goal 6 Findings

FIRST YEAR EXPERIENCE STRATEGIC TASK FORCE FINDINGS 

  • It is important for an institution to have a philosophy/rationale for the first-year that is explicit, clear and easily understood, consistent with the institutional mission.  It is also important that this philosophy be widely disseminated.  While Fairmont State is working toward improving the first-year experience, at present it is probably most accurate to say that our philosophy for freshmen is our philosophy for students in general.  We have no concrete, broadly disseminated, universally understood philosophy of the first-year experience.
  • Even though Fairmont State has several initiatives started, there has often been a lack of coordination of these efforts.
  • A coherent first-year experience is realized and maintained through effective partnerships among Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and other administrative units.  It is enhanced by ongoing faculty and staff development activities.  Currently Fairmont Sate has multiple administrative structures that cooperate to administer and align first-year policies, practices, and programs.
  • In and out of the classroom learning activities promote increased competence in critical thinking, ethical development, and the lifelong pursuit of knowledge.  Based upon student reports, a very limited percentage of the first-year students engage in out-of-class activities.  The highest percentage of participation  included the professional organizations associated with the student's major, fitness facilities available in the new Falcon Center, and Intramural sports.  Very few students engaged in sporting events, campus guest speakers, or freshman orientation.
  • High-quality instruction in first-year classes and interaction between faculty and first-year students should be a high priority for faculty.  Many faculty development activities are currently being coordinated through Fairmont State's Center for Teaching Excellence; this is certainly an improvement from the past, but Fairmont State still has room for improvement in this area.
  • Institutions must clearly communicate expectations and provide appropriate support for educational success of first-year students.  Currently, students seem to be unaware of any institutional mission at all, except for the notions of "giving out diplomas" and "earning money."
  • Institutions must maintain curricular alignments with secondary schools and linkages with secondary school personnel, families, and other support sources.
  • Services must be provided to all first-year students with respect to the students' abilities, backgrounds, interests, and experiences.  Fairmont State adequately identifies student subpopulations, but we often have difficulty identifying all of their needs.  Part of the problem stems from our growth.  Services provided to students have not adjusted quickly enough to sufficiently handle the increasing needs of students.
  • Institutions must ensure a campus environment that is inclusive and safe for all students.
  • First-year students must have the opportunity to interact in an open and civil community with people from backgrounds and cultures different from their own and explore their own cultures and the cultures of others.
  • The roles and purposes of first-year higher education programs must include knowledge acquisitions for personal growth, learning to prepare for future employment, learning to become engaged citizens, and learning to serve the public good.
  • First-year students should be encouraged to examine their motivations and goals with regard to higher education and Fairmont State specifically.
  • Assessment results are an integral part of institutional planning, resource allocation, decision-making, and ongoing improvement of programs and policies as they affect first-year students.

Contact Information

Van Dempsey
Interim Vice-President, Institutional Assessment and Effectiveness
Hardway Hall, Room 223
Phone: (304) 367-4646
Van.Dempsey@fairmontstate.edu